Do Refugees Impact Voting Behavior in the Host Country? Evidence from Syrian Refugee Inflows in Turkey

28 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2017

See all articles by Onur Altindag

Onur Altindag

Bentley University; Economic Research Forum

Neeraj Kaushal

Columbia University - School of Social Work; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

We study the effect of an influx of approximately three million Syrian refugees on voting behavior in Turkey. We use a difference-in-differences approach, comparing the political outcomes in geographic areas with high and low intensity of refugee presence before and after the beginning of Syrian civil war. To address the endogeneity in refugees’ location choices, we adopt an instrumental variables approach that relies on the historic dispersion of Arabic speakers across Turkish provinces, taking advantage of the fact that Syrians are more likely to settle in locations with high Arabic-speaking host populations. We document a strong polarization in attitudes towards refugees between the supporters and opponents of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP). Regression analyses of monthly survey data, however, suggest that the massive inflow of refugees induced only a modest drop in support for the AKP. We show similarly small, but statistically insignificant impact on actual election outcomes.

Keywords: Syrian refugees, voting behavior in Turkey, attitudes towards refugees

JEL Classification: F22

Suggested Citation

Altindag, Onur and Kaushal, Neeraj, Do Refugees Impact Voting Behavior in the Host Country? Evidence from Syrian Refugee Inflows in Turkey (June 2017). IZA Discussion Paper No. 10849, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2998958

Onur Altindag (Contact Author)

Bentley University

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

Economic Research Forum ( email )

Cairo
Egypt

Neeraj Kaushal

Columbia University - School of Social Work ( email )

622 W. 113th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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